An Intro Guide to Zork Nemesis

This is a spoiler-free guide for people who wish to check out the game Zork Nemesis: The Forbidden Lands, a first-person point-and-click adventure game developed by Zombie LLC and published by Activision and released in 1996. This is not a walkthrough and is just meant as an intro to the game to help people get started playing it. During the 80s, game developer Infocom created many text adventure games, with Zork being their most famous series of games. Towards the end of the decade, Infocom made some poor business decisions and it also become tougher to make text adventures commercially viable so they were acquired by Activision and eventually closed. However, this didn’t mean the end of the Zork series and there were three commercial Zork games released in the 90s, Return to Zork in 1993, Zork Nemesis in 1996, and Zork: Grand Inquisitor in 1997. At the time Zork Nemesis was a bit of a divisive game, it did well critically and sold well but a few fans were put off by the game’s darker tone, which was a change from the heavily comedic tone of the previous game or two in the series. Some people were also put off by the game being influenced by Myst, a highly popular adventure game at the time. It seems like people have come around since then and appreciate the one-off change in tone, which still has dark humor but isn’t as silly as the games before and after it.

Why Should I Play It?

If you’re an adventure game or Zork fan, I think it’s worth playing. I think Zork fans will appreciate the change in tone while still feeling like a Zork game but even if you’ve never played a Zork game, fans of the genre should find it enjoyable. There’s a lot of variety in the environments, the plot is interesting, the acting in the FMV scenes is the right level of camp, it has an incredible soundtrack and for the most part the puzzle feel challenging but fair. If you’ve never played a Zork game before, the game does make references to the world established in previous games and you might get a little more from the game if you’ve played other Zork games, but it’s very standalone and doesn’t rely on playing other games to understand the story..

How Do I Get Started?

It’s easy to get the game running on modern computers. If you already own the game, you just need to copy the files to a directory and open it with ScummVM. If you don’t have the game, you can buy it on GOG or Steam and copy the files into ScummVM from there. The versions on those sites use DOSBox and I heard people say they ran into some bugs from there. I also strongly recommend the subtitles patch. The sound mixing in the game is sometimes a little off and it makes it hard to hear dialog while playing the game. The patch also makes the audio puzzles a little easier, which may or may not be a plus for you depending on how you feel about that style of puzzle.

Tips for Playing Zork Nemesis

There’s a couple things to keep in mind while playing the game that will help you avoid some headaches people can run into with this game, and to fully appreciate the game.

Save Often
You will want to save regularly. There’s a few points where the player can die and a reload is required. As far as I know, there are no softlocks in this game that require you to restart the game because of something you missed or action you took.

Take Notes
During the game, you will come across journals and other things that are used in puzzles in other parts of the game. I highly recommend having a notebook or paper to write notes and diagrams in so you have something to reference for these puzzles.

It’s Ok to Use Hints!
Adventure games can be tough and puzzles that make sense to one person may not be easy for someone else. If you’re feeling frustrated by being stuck on a puzzle too long and it’s becoming less fun, consider looking up a hint. I feel like the guide on UHS Hints is good at helping the player without giving too much away.